America The Black Point of View: An Investigation and Study of The White People of America and Western Europe & The Autobiography of an American Ghetto Boy – The 1950’s and 1960’s – From the Projects to NAACP Image Award Winner, Volume One (Amber Books) by Tony Rose
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF TONY ROSE –
SHORT VERSION – # ONE
My autobiography from birth to eighteen years old.
HOW MY FATHER CHANGED MY LIFE AND SAVED ME.
BY TONY ROSE
On May 29, 2009 I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. I had scheduled a PSA test two weeks before my diagnosis and thought that I would schedule my follow-up appointment on the morning I was to leave for New York City for the African American Pavilion at Book Expo America, where I served as the Co-Founder and Executive Director. That morning May 29, 2009, when the doctor told me that I had very aggressive Gleason 8 Cancerous tumors on my Prostate, (The good news was that I wasn’t a Gleason 10-the highest, the bad news was I was a Gleason 8-almost the highest) my doctor suggested that I be operated on right away to have my prostate removed, I thanked him, and my wife Yvonne and I left immediately for the airport. Within a matter of hours we were in New York City beginning the start of the 2009 African American Pavilion at BookExpo America.
During this time I began to prepare my will and prepare to die. I believe in preparation and that’s when I learned that no one in my immediate family and friends really knew me and where I had come from. All the people that I had grown up with were dead; emotionally, physically or in-jail dead, and what family I had left, never talked about it at all. And, when my children said that they had issues with me from how they grew up, and how I was never there, and the type of father I was to them, and how they had wanted more from me, and that they didn’t know me at al,l and they wanted to know who I was, and where I had come from, and how I had got to where I was in life; and these were late twenties children. I decided I would write them a letter about my early childhood from birth to eighteen years old. This is that letter.
This biography is very, very graphic. The people are real, the events are real
and the language is real. It is the life and language that I lived
and used as a child and teenager in the moment and time that I lived it.
Do not read this biography if you are easily offended and sickened by
extreme violence, strong language and extreme sexual matters.
HOW MY FATHER CHANGED MY LIFE AND SAVED ME.
THE FIRST TIME
BOSTON CITY HOSPITAL
I was born at Boston City Hospital. My mother brought me home to her mother’s (Grandma) house, as my father was in jail. When my father came out of jail, I was about one and a half years old and my mother moved to my father’s, mother, Grandmere’s house in Cambridge. When my father went back to jail, I was about two years old, and my mother was pregnant with my sister. My mother and I moved back to her mother’s house.
My mother had my sister on June 24, 1953 and we moved to Townsend St. in Roxbury, where one of my earliest memories is of a cat being struck by lightning, and my father getting out of jail. I would next see and recognize my father when I was three and a half years old in a large room, sitting with my mother and seeing my father sitting with other men in white clothes, behind a rail with benches, his hands bound by something shining. I saw my father get up, some men say something, and my father is led off by other men.
The next time I saw my father, we were living in the Whittier St. Housing Projects in Roxbury, we had moved there when I turned four and I was now five and going to kindergarten. He came in the door, we lived in three rooms, a kitchen/front room, two bedrooms and bathroom, on the fifth floor; and he went into the bedroom with my mother and they made a lot of noise, my mother screaming over and over, that yes, she wanted another child. He left and I didn’t see him again until I was almost six or seven years old, and this is when my father changed my life for the first time.
INVITED HIM UP
What happened is the final version as told by mother when she went in for her operation last year, and what I saw when I was young. I had been told many versions over the years, but I believe this is what happened. It seems my father had been in jail again and had gotten out. He sent a boy up to our apartment with candy. My mother invited him up and he moved in.
HAVING SEX WITH A LOT OF WOMEN
My mother was working at Mass General Hospital and had met a wonderful friend named Millie. My sister and I loved Millie, she made our mother laugh; my mother was finally getting herself together, she was on welfare, but, wanted to do better, she was a nurse’s aid and wanted to be a nurse. (She started crying here) I was coming home from school, and my sister was staying at grandma’s house, and my mother was picking her up on the weekends. My father told my mother that he would stay at home and watch my sister. My mother found out that he was having sex with a lot of the women in our building while she was at work.
PATIENT ALMOST DIED
On this fateful day in early October 1956 or 1957, my mother went to work. Sick with thinking about my father and other women, she put a patient in a tub, and went in the back to have a smoke and to talk with Millie about her problems with my father. The patient almost died in the tub and my mother was fired. She came home early, opened the door and yelled for my father. She said she didn’t hear anything and went to the bedroom and the door was locked. She started banging on the door and said she could hear my sister in there. She said my father finally opened the door and that my sister seemed to be listless. She started screaming at my father and told him to get out.
VAGINA CHECKED OUT
She called her mother and her mother said that my father was in there probably bothering my sister. My mother said she questioned that, but, my grandmother said that he had been, and that she needed to take my sister to the hospital and have her vagina checked out. My mother did. My grandmother called grandmere’ and told her that my father had been sexually molesting my sister. My father arrived at my grandmere’s house and she told him. He wrecked her kitchen and pulled a gun and said he was going to kill my mother and grandmother. My grandmere’ called my grandmother and told her what my father had done and said. My mother took us from the hospital to my grandmother’s house.
ON HIS WAY TO KILL EVERYONE
My grandmere’ told her what she had done and that my father was on his way from Cambridge to kill everyone. My grandmother thought we would all be safer at my aunt’s apartment in the Lenox St. Projects. I remember that long night-walk to my aunt’s house very well, as my mother and grandmother were very scared that my father would find us. We arrived at my aunt’s house, where my mother and grandmother called the police and told them what had happened and where my father was going. At this point, we were all terrified. The police called and said that they had a man at our apartment and wanted my mother to come and identify him. We walked from the Lenox St. Projects to the Whittier St. Projects.
SHINY THINGS AGAIN
There were police everywhere in my building. We went up to the fifth floor and into our apartment where the police and my father were. The shiny things were around his hands and the police asked my mother if this was him. I remember looking at him. I can still see him in that apartment, at the door, surrounded by policemen, screaming at my mother, as she said, yes, that was him. I remember the police dragging him out.
FINALLY WENT INSANE
I would not see him again until February 1965. I believe that was the night that my mother finally went insane. I’m not sure if I was near six or seven, I’m inclined to think six, because that would make my sister at the right age three not four. My mother says she can’t remember and neither can I. But, what I do remember is that I was about seven when we went to visit Uncle Robert, my mother’s brother. My mother’s brother was doing twenty-five years in Bridgewater State Hospital. He did fifteen or so. In 1949 he had gone on a major crime spree in Boston. And here, I must tell you that all of his feats and my fathers were well recorded in the newspapers and radio during their day. His crime spree ended with a standoff on Mass. Ave and Columbus Ave., with the police and my grandmother begging him to surrender, and my uncle shooting and wounding a police officer, (He later lost his leg) and then turning the gun on himself, shooting himself in the head.
BLEW HIS EYES OUT
Instead of blowing his brains out, he blew his eyes out, and was blind for the rest of his life. With all the notoriety, the newspaper and radio coverage, the trial and the sentencing; the Faulks, my mother, my two aunts, my grandmother and grandfather, my uncle, were disgraced and ostracized from the community. They were hated and whatever little standing they might have had in Boston, in Roxbury, in the community, because of my mother’s great and phenomenal ability to play classical music; it was lost. Her music career was over, there was no more money for her lessons, for her gowns, for her aspirations, all the money went to that asshole, my uncle for his lawyers, his trial, for his appeal, for his comfort in jail, for his life and for my grandmother’s guilt, and that’s when I believe my mother began to go insane.
USED TO VISITING PEOPLE IN JAIL
They could no longer hold their heads up and sank into despair and everything for them went wrong and that’s what we, my sister and I, and my cousins, the next generation, were born into. But, on that day when I was seven years old and visiting my uncle in jail, I didn’t know this, in fact, I was very used to visiting people in jail. I had been visiting my father in jail since I had been two years old, and visiting a favorite cousin of my mother’s, so my uncle was routine. But on this day when I was seven years old, Hall, my Aunt Phylis’s new boyfriend, drove my aunt, my mother, my grandmother, my sister and me, to visit my uncle.
WHICH HAND IS IT IN
I thought it was fun, a fun day. I was a child and wanted to do child things. My aunts, grandmother and mother got out of the car to visit my uncle. Hall stayed up front in the driver’s seat, (I can still see him there smoking a cigarette, bored, babysitting me and my sister) Well, us cousins and me and my sister had a game we would play whenever we could, it didn’t cost anything, and could be played anywhere. It was called which hand is it in. It could be a pebble, a penny, a button, it didn’t matter as long as it could fit in your hand and not be seen.
YOU PUT YOUR HAND BEHIND YOUR BACK
You put your hand behind your back, brought it out for your partner to slap your hand and you had to open it. If that hand held the button, then it was their turn to be it. The game was played at breakneck speed. You had to guess which hand held it, slap the hand that you thought held it, when the hand opened and didn’t, you put your hand behind your back and switched it or kept it in the same hand, moved your balled hands up in front of your partner and said which hand is it in.
HAD I BEEN BOTHERING HER
It was a fun game, a guessing game. Every once in a while Hall would tell us to stop making so much noise. It would be the last time I would ever play that game or any game with my sister again, to this day. It would be the day that my father would begin to change my life. When the adults came back, here’s what they saw, my sister and me in the back seat of the car hot and sweaty, clothes askew. What happened later, I can’t remember except that my mother when we got home kept asking me had I been bothering my sister and asking my sister had I been bothering her. I had no idea what she was talking about and neither did my sister, but, after my mother kept going on and on and on, and us crying, and her hitting me, my sister said yes, I had been bothering her and my whole life changed.
My father was a heroin addict, as well as a pimp, murderer, gangster and button man (Hit Man) for the Mafia. I knew that after I got older, and my mother said she remembered his works and saw him shoot up a few times without him knowing it during their marriage. I always wanted to believe and once I got older and started dealing with drugs, I wanted to believe that probably my father had been shooting up that day when he and my sister were in the bedroom, and he didn’t want my mother to know it, and was trying to clean up, or he had just started and wanted to finish getting high. But, what I did know was that I had not bothered my sister and had no idea what that meant, outside of hitting her, which I hadn’t; and that day, and all the times I was accused of that, until I reached twelve years old and then all of a sudden it stopped, I never knew why my life had changed.
TORTURED AND ABUSED
Why I was being crushed physically, mentally and emotionally by my mother, why I was being tortured and abused by my mother? Because from that day on, I was never held by my mother; never told I love you, by my mother; never told, by my mother, that I’m proud of you. Not being told I love you and not being held by my mother as a child damaged me severely. When I take care of my mother today, I know what a woman must feel who is forced to care of, in some way, an aging father who sexually abused her from the age of six to twelve and then it stopped; and you are told to never tell anyone. Well, it’s the same thing to me. I am taking care of my abuser.
THE BEATINGS, NAKED AND HUMILIATED
For five or six years this went on. I will not tell you all the things that were done to me. But, I will tell you the beatings, the beatings, the beatings went on forever, naked, with black and blue marks all over my body. The humiliations; it tore my sister and me apart, I was deathly afraid of her, my sister held life and death over me. One wrong word from her. I could be awakened at night, out of sleep, interrogated and beaten like a dog. I lived with no hope, defenseless and nobody ever coming to help me, to save me.
NO IDEA WHAT LOVE WAS
At seven, I hated my mother; at eight, I wanted to kill my mother; at nine, I was planning on how I would kill her; at ten, I had no soul left; at eleven, I had no idea what love was; at twelve, I was dead to anything; and then she stopped. Because an old boyfriend named Randy got out of jail after serving fifteen years for murder, called my grandmother, came over and moved in with us.
He was a 100% mentally disabled World War Two veteran and she got distracted for the next fifteen years in trying to get his disability check which was controlled by his step-mother. I won’t go year by year and tell you what happened to me, it would take too long, suffice it to say that I was damaged in every way possible you could damage a child. What I am is a child who grew up without love, without being held, who lived in a house with a monster, a child who lived in fear, a child who gave up hope of anyone ever saving me. And then one day it just stopped, as if nothing had ever happened. I was told over and over and over by my mother to never tell anyone what she was doing to me and then it just stopped, her attention went somewhere else. It seemed.
CHAPTER TWENTY ONE
BACK END OF THE IRON CHORD
In 1965, after it had stopped for a while, Randy went back to the hospital. He did drugs and medication drugs and smoked all day, and would go crazy. People would come get him from the VA, take him to the mental ward. She started up again, and accused me of something, it could have been anything. She told me to take off my clothes and brought the iron chord in, the back end, and proceeded to hurt me again, badly. I realized while she was doing this, that I was almost as big as her, and I wrestled the iron chord from her and threw it out the window, and then I tried to throw her out. She never hit me again.
CHAPTER TWENTY TWO
FIND ALCOHOL AND ALL MY TROUBLES OVER
Soon after, at fourteen, I would find alcohol and all my troubles would be over. Soon after, that same year, when I reached puberty, I realized what my mother had been talking about all those years. She had been accusing me of sexually molesting my sister since I had been six or seven years old. When she told my sister and me the story of my father last year, we asked her why she had listened to her mother about me sexually abusing my sister. She said she had and she hadn’t, mainly she was mad at my father and that this had been her way of getting back at him, by hurting his son.
CHAPTER TWENTY THREE
BLAMED MY GRANDMOTHER
All these years I had blamed my grandmother for putting those ideas in my mother’s head. I was right though, my grandmother had accused my grandfather of molesting one of my aunts in the 1930’s, she had accused one of her sister’s husbands of molesting their daughter in the 40’s, she had accused me of sexually molesting my sister in the 50’s, my mother believed her and took it to the next level, and on and on and in the eighties she accused my cousin’s first husband of molesting his daughter and broke up their marriage.
CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR
NO GOD FOR MY MOTHER
What I found out in 1992 when I wrote a letter to everyone about what had happened to me as a child, was that my grandmother had been sexually abused as a child by her father and a step-father. The collaborative evidence was that one of my second cousins could remember Daddy Herbert my grandmother’s father, sexually molesting her in the 1960’s when he was living with her parents. So you see when I was growing up we were poor, but, there was no God for my mother, no church for my mother, no love from my mother, no nothing, just pure bleakness, no joy, no hope.
CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE
PROSTITUTES ALCOHOLICS AND DRUG ADDICTS
I found my joy outside the home, outside the family. All I am is from those times. I tried to stay out of the apartment as much as I could. I started a paper route in the projects so I could eat. I ran errands for people in the projects so I could eat. I was being starved by my mother. She would not feed me. So I started credit at Al’s, a local grocery store, and brought Al our welfare check, so that we could eat. It wasn’t just that we were poor. I think my mother had a cruel streak and she was insane. I found other outlets and strangers to feed me, to look after me, to shelter me. I lived in a world of prostitutes, alcoholics, drug addicts, you name it I lived in it and knew it. But, these were the people who looked after me. I lived in complete horror inside and outside my little project apartment, but, I learned how to survive.
THE SECOND TIME
CHAPTER TWENTY SIX
The second time my father changed my life and saved me, was when I was fifteen in 1966. Back during that incident in 1956 or 1957 he had done some jail time for being on parole and carrying a gun and from what I saw in his papers after he had died, he had been in jail again in 1959-61 and again in 1962-65. He had just gotten out of jail when I met him again in 1966. I met him because I had discovered alcohol and weed in 1965 and I was in gangs and I wasn’t going to school and I was violent.
CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN
I LOVED HIM
I loved him and I felt sorry for him. I could remember the last time I had seen him. But, something would happen in April 1966 that would change me, not right away, but, I would know something else about me.
CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT
RAPING LITTLE GIRLS
That April, when I was fifteen, I went up against 18, 19, 20 year old gang members in the project I grew up in. They were raping 11,12, 13 year old girls, had been doing it for years, little girls would be pregnant all the time. One of the girls raped was my sister, I saved her once, but I couldn’t be there all the time. I was beat to death and lived, the police finally came to the projects, there was an investigation, and the rapes stopped.
CHAPTER TWENTY NINE
WORKED FOR THE MAFIA
My father had just been released from prison and I hadn’t seen him for eight or so years. When I was released from the hospital I couldn’t live in the projects for a while and I went to live with my father for about eight months, until he went back to prison. He taught me a lot during that time. My father was a pimp, a drug dealer and drug user, a real gangster and a murderer, an out an out criminal. He was no joke, the real thing. Everyone in Roxbury, Dorchester, hell in Boston, Cambridge, Medford, Summerville, Malden, Lynn, Revere, New England, Rhode Island, everyone, everywhere, feared him and knew him. He worked for the Mafia and was proud of that.
FINGER FUCK THEM
His crimes and jail time were recorded in the newspapers and television and he was proud of that. He fucked everything in sight and was proud of that. He was beautiful and he was proud of that. I loved him. We would go pick up money from the girls, sometimes he’d have to beat them and sometimes they would give me blow jobs and let me finger fuck them. My father got a kick out of that, he would laugh and the girls would laugh, and I thought I was cool. Sometimes he’d have to get out the hanger and show me how to beat them bitches, but, I never really got into that.
CHAPTER THIRTY ONE
A POOR RAT WHO ONLY GOT ONE HOLE
He would say it’s a poor rat who only got one hole. He believed in multiple women and girlfriends. He taught me how to have a bottom lady, one who’s taking care of you and running the other bitches. How to handle thirty, forty bitches at a time. How to make women make money for you, how to sex them and keep them giving you money. He told me everything a poor boy like me would need to know, to be successful with women, to get their money and hearts. I became very, very good at it and learned to appreciate the knowledge he gave me.
CHAPTER THIRTY TWO
FIGHT MY WAY BACK IN
He never paid me or gave me any money, not ever. During the time I was with him, I worked with and for him, and he never gave me one dime. He fed me though and gave me a bed. And, he told me this, before he went back to prison. That I would have to go back to the projects, back to my mother’s apartment and that I would have to gain entrance back into the projects, that I would have to fight my way back in.
CHAPTER THIRTY THREE
CARRIED A BAT
Well I knew that. I was ready to fight. He said no, that I would have to hurt someone, one of the guys that hurt me. That I would have to hurt them bad, that they would have to know it came from me, but, be afraid to retaliate, and he told me what I had to do. Well, I had always carried a bat to protect myself, when I was growing up selling newspapers, kept it in my newspaper bag.
CHAPTER THIRTY FOUR
THROWING PEOPLE OFF THE ROOF
One of the guy’s I went up against was known as Cliff. Cliff was especially cruel and was known for throwing people off the roof, as well as raping little girls. Two days before my father went up, I snuck into the project at night, went to Cliff’s building on Ruggles St. Cliff was sitting on the benches with his boys, I knocked the lights out in the hallway and two floors up and down from Cliffs apartment, and waited in the dark inside the hallway near his apartment. I had known Cliff all my life, I knew what he smelled like and how he walked.
CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE
HE WAS DRUNK AND HE SMELLED
When he came I hit him hard on the side of his head, twice, and threw the bat down. When he came out the hospital, he made funny noises with his mouth and he walked with his head bent over and to the side. He was never right again, and the kids and people used to make fun of him. I never made fun of him. He went back and forth to jail a few times and the last time I saw him in Boston, back in the eighties, he was a raging queen, a faggot. He was drunk and he smelled.
CHAPTER THIRTY SIX
I WAS BEAUTIFUL AND WOMEN LOVED ME
I’m sure I’ll have to pay and answer for that, but, I hope whoever is taking names, that they’ll remember, that maybe I saved a few little girls. I never had any trouble, anymore, in the projects. What I learned from all that was, that I had great courage, could stand up for the underdog, and that I was beautiful, and women loved me.
THE THIRD TIME
CHAPTER THIRTY SEVEN
SHOT FIVE TIMES AND LIVED
The third time my father changed my life and saved me, was on November 11, 1968. My father was shot five times and four other men were killed in a storefront office called N.E.G.R.O (New England Grass Roots Organization) on lower Blue Hill Ave. The newspapers and television stations reported that he had been shot three times and three were killed, but, they found two more bullets later in the hospital and one of the other men died later. My sister and I would live through the same thing my mother’s family had lived through twenty years before. An horrific violent crime broadcast throughout the state and nationally, because they were touted as civil rights leaders.
CHAPTER THIRTY EIGHT
ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS
What they were was ex-cons who had found a way to con the state and government out of some money. I always believed that Guido St. Laurent, the Director, was real and had the best intentions for the organization. I knew my father and knew there was a scam behind it, and when he told me a few years later how he had set up the hit because he thought that Guido had one hundred thousand (government given) dollars in a hidden safe and how he had recruited the Campbell brothers to break in and rob the place, and that the Campbell brothers had turned on him and tried to kill him, well, I knew that was the truth. I wrote about it in a short story I called, “The Life”, and won a short story award at U. Mass.
CHAPTER THIRTY NINE
BODIES WERE BEING FOUND
But, on November 11, 1968, my father was being touted as a community leader who had been shot and the “dead” others were being eulogized as community heroes. The violence was extraordinary and for months and years afterwards bodies were being found, related to the N.E.G.R.O. shooting. Finally that June 1969, the Campbell brothers were acquitted because my father wouldn’t identify them, saying he would take care of them himself. His true colors and criminal record surfaced for all to see and he and all of us were ostracized and scorned once again.
DRINK AND GET HIGH
But, my father was changing my life, and my life would be saved. On November 11, 1968 when I was one month from seventeen years old and now eighteen years old, I had no idea what grade I was in. I hadn’t been to school since 1966, except to fuck around with the girls, get high, fight, and make fun of the teachers. I was lost, all I did was drink and get high.
CHAPTER FORTY ONE
GIVE US ALL BLOW JOBS
I belonged to a gang in Grove Hall, a fighting gang, a gang that believed in getting high; by drinking, bombers, heroin, pills, glue, anything that got you high. We had two white girls named Dottie and Anne who would come from Malden on the weekends to hang with us and give us all blow jobs. Since 1966 when I joined the gang I did nothing but, get high and write poetry, I’m sure I had some lucid moments but I can’t really remember any.
CHAPTER FORTY TWO
I HATED MY MOTHER
I hated my mother and my family, except for my cousins and I still had nothing really to do with my sister.
CHAPTER FORTY THREE
SUCKED MY DICK LIKE A DOG
In January of 1968, when I was seventeen, I met a twenty three year old woman named Rosa. She had her own apartment and all the scotch, rum, and liquor I could drink and she sucked my dick like a dog. She had everything I needed, so I was never home. I never had to see my mother or sister or Randy, and I never had to go to school.
CHAPTER FORTY FOUR
UP FRONT AND PERSONAL VIOLENCE
My best friends in the gang were The Mighty Hawk, a raging alcoholic; CP, a stone psychopath; The Hunter; and Petey, a heroin addict and our leader. I was TC, Freddie The Lover or Freddie. We were a gang of about thirty who traveled to parties in tens, started fights over other gangs’ bitches. We were pretty boys, who could and liked to fight. I carried and had carried since I was fourteen, two switchblade knives and knew how to use them well. I would buy knives and carry knives for many years. I loved up front and personal violence.
CHAPTER FORTY FIVE
ROCKED WITH THE LATEST JAMS AND GET HIGH SMOKE
We would rob some places, only businesses, not people. We would do crime and fuck with the police. But, I know our main thing was getting high. I had been living like this for years. I had no other life. I loved my life. I was free and could get high anytime I wanted to. I had lots of girlfriends, but, Rosa was my bottom lady, kept me rocked with the latest jams, get high smoke and all the liquor I could drink.
CHAPTER FORTY SIX
ISN’T THAT YOUR FATHER
This is how I was living on November 11, 1968. And then my life changed. When my father was shot, I got noticed, people started to notice me. The kids were first. They said, isn’t that your father? The people in the street; the prostitutes, pimps, drug people, said, isn’t that your father?. When I went to school the teachers and the good kids said, isn’t that your father?. I was a mess, I probably smelled, I was a ragamuffin, unloved and unwashed. But, I looked totally opposite of what I was. I looked soft, I fooled many people over the years, until I would bite.
CHAPTER FORTY SEVEN
FOUR LAPS AT THE BOYS CLUB
So, when I went to Dorchester High at the beginning of December 1968, I was just there to get high and walk the hallways with my knives, and fool around with the good girls who were giving me some attention because of my father being shot. And this white guy, who I remembered was the headmaster, came up to me, and said, I know what happened and that Fred Rose is your father. He said, If you can swim four laps at the Boys Club, I’m going to graduate you.
CHAPTER FORTY EIGHT
SEXUALLY MOLESTED AS A CHILD
I almost spit on him. but, I looked down on him and said, I can swim four laps. One of the things I did as a child to get away from my mother was to join the Boys Club and the YMCA where I became a champion swimmer and where I became the only person in my family, outside of my grandmother, to be sexually molested as a child. I was eleven years old and probably the staff man at the YMCA saw me, always there alone, no parents, nobody interested in me.
CHAPTER FORTY NINE
GET SOME MORE MONEY
He invited me down the basement steps one day and played with my pee pee and gave me a bunch of quarters, when I asked him what he had done, he said one day I would know. I ran home to the projects and my mother was sitting on a bench, I showed her the money and said the guy at the YMCA had given it to me. She took the money from me and put it in her bag. I went back to the Y the next day looking for the man so I could get some more money, but they said he had quit. I looked for him all the time for a while, wanting the money. (I understand completely why and how kids get picked up and killed.)
SWAM THE FOUR LAPS
Anyway Mr. Harrison, who has risen to sainthood in my mind today, kept his word. I swam the four laps and graduated from Dorchester High School, with kids I hardly knew, with a ninth grade education. I swam the four laps that December and never went back to Dorchester High again, never took a test, never did nothing, but walk up there and get a diploma. Without Mr. Harrison, I would have been a High School dropout and would never have been the person I am. I would have died a long time ago like Petey, in jail, with a heroin needle in my arm. Without Mr. Harrison, there would be no me and no you. I pray for his forgiveness at how I treated him and thank him always, for noticing me, for seeing me.
CHAPTER FIFTY ONE
MY PAIL, MY MOP, MY BROOM
In May 1969, my mother moved from the projects to 77 Jacob St., but, it was too late for me. I was gone. I was lost, but, I did have that High School degree. My mother told me either I get a real job or get out. I saw a job in the paper at a nursing home on Townsend St. and went down to apply for the job. The man let me in and showed me my pail, my mop, my broom, how to lift the old ladies up and wipe their pee and shit down, how to put the rubber mats underneath them, how to wash the floors. He showed me my life, he showed me what my life could look like. He walked me to the door and said, “I’ll see you Monday”. And then GOD took my hand and walked me down to Washington St., then to Egelston Station.
CHAPTER FIFTY TWO
BECOME A GOOD CATHOLIC AND GO TO MASS
I knew GOD, I had put myself in St. Francis De Sales Parochial School. When I was eight years old in the fourth grade. When I was seven and eight I used to go up to the rectory and get food for my sister and me. There were two Priests. One was Monsigner. Kerr, the other, was Caribbean-American, his name was Father Paul Francis. He asked me one day if I would like to come to the school, I said yes, he came and talked to my mother and said that he would have the Diocese pay for my tuition from the fourth to the eighth grade, if I would become a good Catholic and go to Mass.
CHAPTER FIFTY THREE
BEEN A RAPIST OR MURDERER
Father Paul Francis kept his promise and to this day I have kept mine. While my mother was killing me, the Priest and Nuns were trying to save my life, and they did. Without those wonderful saints, I know that I would have turned out much worse. Without having that little knowledge about GOD and goodness that they gave me, I would have been a rapist or murderer of women, which is what happens to most boys who are severely abused by their mothers.
CHAPTER FIFTY FOUR
I KNEW GOD
So on that June day I knew GOD, and GOD took my hand and put me on the bus to downtown Boston. I had no idea where I was going. To this day, I have no idea of where I was going. I got off the bus at Tremont St. and walked up the street and I saw a sign that said “Uncle Sam Wants You”. I remember to this day thinking, “Somebody wants me”. I walked in there, and the white guy said, and this is verbatim “Oh you made it, good. Where do you want to go”.
CHAPTER FIFTY FIVE
LEAVE RIGHT NOW
Now, I don’t know where there’s anywhere to go, since I’ve never been anywhere. Nobody in my family had ever taken me anywhere. No trips, no nothing. So the only place I know to go that this guy with a uniform is asking me to go to, is Vietnam, I had seen that place on TV, with other people in uniforms. So that must be where you go. I told him Vietnam. He said no problem we can get you there. He asked me to sit down and asked some questions. I asked if I could leave right now. He said no, that I would have to wait a month.
CHAPTER FIFTY SIX
I COULD GET OUT
I signed all the papers and left knowing that in a month anything could happen to me. But, I left knowing that GOD and me had found out that I didn’t have to be in the ghetto anymore. I had a diploma, I could leave, I could get out.
CHAPTER FIFTY SEVEN
SHE WAS INSANE
I went to Rosa’s but I left after a few days, we were just getting high all the time and I was tired of that. I went back to my mother’s, but, she was insane. I went to a friend of mine in the projects and crashed there and then I went to CP’s house where we began to go on a crime spree.
CHAPTER FIFTY EIGHT
A DRUNKEN DOG
I then stayed with my uncle’s girlfriend on Blue Hill Ave. and partied with her for a week while my uncle was in the hospital in some more therapy. She was a drunken dog, but we had fun at all the bars, hangin out, go back to her place and do everything to her. My uncle and her had adjacent apartments, so I’m in there one morning in the bed with her and he comes in, but, he can’t see. So she takes him in another room and starts fuckin him. I get my clothes, go out to the ledge and climb down.
CHAPTER FIFTY NINE
DOING CRIME WITH A GUN
CP, The Hawk, Petey and me start doing crime with a gun and robbed this stadium at the end of June. Petey is so high on heroin that he just stands there with the gun going AuUUUUU. I take the gun from him and leap over the counter and tell the guy to give up the money. I take the money, give it to CP and race up to the street in my flip flops. There is a bus at the top of the hill and I get on it. The bus driver sees me get on and shortly the police come and ask the driver if they had seen anybody running through. I’m sitting there holding my breath, looking out the window, being cool. The white bus driver waits a beat, looks at them and then says no. The police get off and he rides down the hill with me on it.
PAPER BAG SANDWICH
I go back to Rosa’s for a few days and then to my mother’s house. My mail is there and they want me to come to the Army base in South Boston on July 11, 1969. I make it till then, and leave from my mother’s house, with a paper bag sandwich, and no goodbyes. I was eighteen years old and I never came back to live in her house again.
CHAPTER SIXTY ONE
AN DRUG ADDICTED, ALCOHOLIC, GANG MEMBER
WHO WROTE POETRY
On July 11, 1969, I walked out of the real ghetto, alone, a drug addicted, alcoholic, gang member. A criminal; a physically, mentally, emotionally and sexually abused child, who wrote poetry. I took that walk to the United States Air Force and I’ve never stopped walking, never stopped learning, never stopped trying, never stopped.
CHAPTER SIXTY TWO
EIGHTEEN YEAR OLD POOR GHETTO BOY
That eighteen year old poor ghetto boy, could have never imagined the places he’d go, the things he’d see. I did get to Southeast Asia, just like the recruiter said, become a Crew Chief for F-4D Phantom Jets, and came back an Honorably Discharged – Disabled American Military Veteran.
CHAPTER SIXTY THREE
Since I was sixteen I have been on my own and handled my life, every day. I’ve made hundreds of mistakes, and had hundreds of successes, hurt hundreds of people, been hurt by hundreds of people, helped hundreds and been helped by hundreds. I took that walk, with no one to talk to, no one to give me advice and help except strangers, and everyday I’ve tried to better myself and drag as many as I can with me, with honor.
CHAPTER SIXTY FOUR
HOW FAR I’VE COME FROM WHENCE I CAME
When I received an Official Resolution from Boston City Councillor Charles C. Yancey and the City of Boston on January 14th, 2009 for my achievements in the Music and Book industries, and spoke in the Boston City Hall, City Council Chamber, it was one of the proudest moments of my life. When I received Gold and Platinum Albums and Golden Reel Awards for my work in the music business, when I received the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature in 2013, all I could think of was, “how far I’ve come, from whence I’ve come from”. On my own will and initiative, I crawled out from under the squalor I was born in and came from, and made something of myself.
CHAPTER SIXTY FIVE
THE AIR FORCE TRAINED ME
The Air Force trained me, to, as I look out for myself to look out for others. The road was hard and rough, but, I never whined, felt sorry for myself, or blamed others about the cards I’d been given. What I did do was try hard to become the best man I could and to restore my family’s name. And I have done that. In this country and other countries and especially in my home town, Boston, when they hear my name, they think of success, not some criminal, and when you meet people who know me, you can hold your head up with pride.
CHAPTER SIXY SIX
NO REAL FAMILY
I have worked hard to be what I never knew how to be, a father and a parent. I had no idea what being a father or parent was. I had no uncles, no brothers, no family of any consequence. Nothing. They taught me nothing and never, ever, gave me anything. I had no idea what a father did, what a mother did.
CHAPTER SIXTY SEVEN
FORGIVE HER AND TRY TO UNDERSTAND HER PAIN
I first heard my mother say she was proud of me in 2005. I brought her to live near me, when she needed me, not because I loved her, but, because I am a good son. Over time I have learned to try to love her, and to truly, with the help and love of God, forgive her and try to understand her pain, then and now.
CHAPTER SIXTY SEVEN
TRY TO RESPECT MY MOTHER AND FATHER
I have always, even at their worst, somehow, try to respect my mother and father. When my father needed money in 1986 to pay the taxes on my Grandmere’s house I paid $16,000 in back taxes. When he needed money for a cancer problem in 1988, I left a $15,000 check for him with my attorney, and he picked it up. He died a few months or so later, but, I know that he used that money for his pain and that the medication and money gave him some comfort before he died. When my mother needed a home I bought her one.
CHAPTER SIXTY EIGHT
MAYBE A CARD FOR MY BIRTHDAY
I have helped my family hundreds of times over the years. My sister I gave fifteen thousand dollars to, so that she could buy her first condo, and she used that money to move on up. I’ve spent thousands of dollars in putting my mother in a home near me and have spent thousands more to keep her there and made her life free and easy. I have helped and tried to be there for all of you with money, love, advice, my time, my energy, my passion and love for all of you and never asked for anything but your love back, and maybe a card for my birthday.
CHAPTER SIXTY NINE
HAVE A BABY, GO BACK TO SCHOOL
And the rest of my early life, well, I would get married and have a baby, go back to school and go to college on the GI Bill, get a great job with the City of Boston, buy my first home on the GI Bill at twenty-one years old and have great success in the music and book worlds.
And, as it happens with most ghetto kids, shit happens, and by twenty-two years old, I would lose my wife, child, home and job and it would get worse, a whole lot worse, before it would get better, and then even worse, and then better, and then one day better, and one day, even more better, but, that’s another story, that’s another book or two, and I can honestly say, “I’ve done well, from whence I’ve come. And so that’s “How My Father Changed My Life and Saved Me”.